Yes My Autism Does Define Me

This is a post I’ve meant to write for a while, but now seems the right time to share it. 

You hear a lot of ‘Your disability doesn’t define you’ and ‘You’re more than just your autism.’ 

An outsider might see that as a compliment, but it doesn’t reflect my lived experience. 

The thing is the intensity of my interests comes from my autism, that is part of what makes Sarah…well, Sarah.

I have also made some incredible friendships with other autistic people, through our shared lived experience, that is also a part of my identity. 

Yes, there are many things I am too like a sister, daughter, cat mum, a swimmer, University graduate, educator etc.

But autism is part of who I am; you cannot separate it; otherwise, the real me would not exist. 

Autism is not an accessory I possess; it’s one of the many parts that is integrated into my whole being. That is why I prefer identity-first language.

If you say ‘Sarah has autism’ it implies I am separate from my autism. Also, the same lexicon is used to describe a disease. For example, it’s like saying ‘Sarah has cancer’ (I don’t have cancer, I’m just using it as an example).

Autism is not a death sentence or a life-limiting illness. It’s a neurological difference. 

When I was diagnosed, I was told that I needed treatment for my anxiety, not autism. 

Some autistic people prefer person-first language, which should be respected, but it does not reflect my reality. 

The ironic thing is when people say or imply ‘Your autism doesn’t define you’; I had no sense of identity until I discovered my autism. I felt lost as a person, but I don’t anymore since having a better understanding of my neurodivergence. 

I am autistic, it does define me, but it’s not the only thing that defines me.

And no, I don’t see my autism as an inherently negative thing.

Buy Me a Coffee

If you enjoy my writing or would like to support my online advocacy work, I would be forever grateful if you could buy me a coffee (or tea in my case).

7 thoughts on “Yes My Autism Does Define Me

  1. Hi, I just wanted to let you know that your post has been mentioned here: https://quantumlivingpsychology.wpcomstaging.com/2021/02/09/talk-respectfully-autism/

    I’m glad that your diagnosis helped you find your identity. It must have been confusing before that, feeling different and not having a clear explanation why. Labels can be powerful that way.

    Other people shouldn’t be able to choose what defines you. If you say autism defines you, nobody should be able to take that away from you.

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